New Mexico Drunk Driving Laws

Posted by Legal Team | 02/24/23 | Car Accident, Drunk Driving Accidents

Drunk driving is a serious offense in New Mexico and carries stiff penalties. Driving while intoxicated increases the risks of an accident and amplifies the possibility of grave injuries to the driver and to others.

Alcohol is a depressant that lowers alertness, slows reflexes, and reduces coordination and motor skills. It blurs vision, skews depth perception, and sometimes causes double vision. New Mexico saw 140 fatalities in alcohol-related traffic accidents in 2022. 

Not only does drunk driving risk lives, but it also has life-altering effects for those caught, even if they haven’t caused an accident. The New Mexico car accident attorneys share the importance for all drivers in New Mexico to understand the drunk driving laws in the state so their fun evening out with friends at the pub, date night with wine, or beers while watching the big game don’t turn into a legal battle with both criminal and civil consequences.

What Is the Legal Limit for Blood Alcohol Levels in New Mexico?

New Mexico follows the federal blood alcohol limit (BAC) imposed by federal law. New Mexico law places the following limits on legal BAC at the following:

  •  Adult drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher are driving under the influence and may get DUI charges
  • For drivers under the legal drinking age of 21, a blood alcohol level of .02% or higher results in a DUI charge
  • Drivers with commercial licenses can be arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol of .04% or higher

While some drivers believe that by refusing a breathalyzer test, they can reduce their chances of a DUI charge, it’s important to understand that an officer can arrest a suspected drunk driver on probable cause alone, without a breathalyzer test. Plus, refusing a breathalyzer test triggers other consequences, including a one-year driver’s license suspension. When you apply for a driver’s license in New Mexico, you give your consent to BAC testing when pulled over under reasonable suspicion.

What Are The Penalties for a DUI in New Mexico?

The legal fines and penalties for DUI arrest in New Mexico vary depending on the number of times you’ve been arrested for the offense. You could face the following consequences:

  • For a first offense, DUI convictions come with up to 90 days of jail time, up to $500 in fines, up to a year of probation, an ignition lock device on your vehicle for a year, 24 hours of community service, mandatory DWI school, substance abuse screenings, and a victim-impact panel
  • For a second offense, a DUI conviction comes with up to 364 days in jail with mandatory 96 consecutive hours in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, up to five years probation, 48 hours of community service, substance abuse screenings, a 28-day in-patient treatment program or a 90-day outpatient treatment program, and an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for two years
  • For a third offense, DUI convictions come with 6 months of mandatory jail time and up to 18 months in prison, up to a $5,000 fine, up to 5 years probation, substance abuse screening programs, and an ignition lock device on your vehicle for 3 years

The penalties and fines increase for every further DUI conviction until New Mexico law demands 10 years of mandatory prison time for an 8th offense. 

Convicted drivers may petition the court to reinstate their standard driver’s license after a 5-year period without another DUI conviction.

A car accident with a DUI charge not only results in the above penalties but also leaves the driver at fault in the accident and liable for damages in civil court.

If you have questions about DUI laws in New Mexico, an experienced New Mexico drunk driving accident attorney at Liles White PLLC can help you understand your rights and obligations.